Memorial Day has the word “memorial” for a reason
More than a Monday spent at beaches, backyard barbecues and blockbuster movies, Memorial Day is the day we remember and honor those who died serving our country.
Unlike Veterans Day it is not a celebration; it was intended to be a day of solemn contemplation over the high cost of freedom.
In this time of divisiveness and polarization, of spectacle and mud-slinging, it is more than ever important to stop, come together, and remember those who have given their all.
Today we pay homage to all the soldiers who didn’t come home.
We Must Remember This
During WWII the grimness of war wasn’t hidden from the public.
No series of ads brought the realities of war closer to home than a memorable series that ran during WWII by Nash/ Kelvinator.
During the war when Nash/ Kelvinator was busy with war work building Pratt Whitney Engines and sidelined from manufacturing home appliances and automobiles it still wanted to keep its name before the American public. Like many other companies occupied with war work and nothing to sell the consumer, they ran patriotic advertisements.
While most adverting reflected the red, white, and blue fervor of our nation, glorifying and supporting the war effort and our boys overseas, the Nash/ Kelvinator ads dealt with the harsh gritty realities of war. The full color ads graphically showed the pain, blood and fear of our military men and women.
The ads served not only a tribute to the harshness, fortitude and bravery endured by our servicemen and women it was a tribute to the American Way and the American dream for which we were fighting for and for many, ultimately dying for.
“I’m fighting for freedom! I’m fighting for the things that made America the greatest place in the world to live in. . . . I want to come back to the same America I left behind me . . . where our way of living has always brought us new and better things . . . That’s what I’m fighting for.”
Told through the first person, the ads put the viewer in the mind of a courageous infantry soldier, sailor, army nurse, or medic in the midst of battle.
We took the beach head at dawn.
Our destroyers stood out to sea and threw the shells and our planes pounded hell out of their pill boxes, and then we came in…
But the wind and the tide tricked us.
The landing boats grounded off shore and we jumped over the sides and stood in the warm, shallow water and stared at the faraway beach and then at each other…and our eyes and our mouths were wide with fear as we waded in…
And we fell under their guns like wheat to the blade of the reaper. And though they said we could never take it…at dawn on the third day we took it.
I’m not fighting for myself alone….
I’m fighting for the buddies who fell beside me…for Joe and Pete and Jack and Harry. For the flag they loved, and their kids back home, and the faith they held in their right to be free…for the future and the life that they gave up…for the things that make America the one country in all the world where a man can be somebody…where a man can go somewhere.
I know why I’m still out here.
I know whats got to be done
And I’m not coming back until I’m through with my knife and my gun…until I know that terrorism and the lust to kill and enslave are forever dead…until all men and women and children can live without fear…as free individuals in a land and a world, where there will always be liberty, equality and freedom of opportunity.
That’s what they fought and died for.
That’s what I’m fighting for.
Keep it that way until I come home.
He was a thorn in their side…
All morning long his accurate mortar fire kept them from forming up, broke the spearhead of their attacks…
So they went out to get him…
And finally a sniper shot him.
Then they laid down a cross fire that was death to defy. I know…because one of our men tried. But it was damned hard to lie there and hear him call “Mom”.. and cry and call “Mom” again like a kid who’d been hurt,he didn’t know just how or why
And all we could do was just lie there…and grind our teeth together and tighten our guts because each time he cried Mom…it tore out our insides.
I put a syrette into his arm and he relaxed and his head fell back and his eyes were still wide but I could tell he thought his mother was there bu his side as he left…
Pen your hearts, wives and daughters!
Open your pocketbooks fathers! Give your blood brothers and sisters!
So the freedom you want…
So the country you want…
So the future you want
Will be there when we come back.
I looked Into My Brothers Face
Even now I can’t sleep.
All night long I heard again the words I said bending over the litters as the wounded came in…
“Where are you hurt soldier?”
Now, not even the blessed numbness we pray for in this place can keep me from living over and over again the moment when sponging away the dark red mud, I looked into my brothers face.
He said, “Don’t cry Sis.” And suddenly we were children again playing nurse and wounded soldier on the battlefield of our yard back home.
I grew up last night.
Out here, I’ve seen my share of war. Women strafed in the streets…hospitals bombed…ripped sheets, splintered beds, the living and the dead tumbled together. And I’ve stood it because I’m an Army Nurse and that’s my job.
But a nurse is a woman first and when someone is wounded something breaks inside and the war hits home.
Hits home to you and to the heart of America.
And then you know why were out here. Not for glory. Not for new worlds to conquer. Not for great high sounding words…
But to make sure we keep on having the kind of America my brother and I grew up in…to make sure well always have a hand and a voice in helping to make it an even better land to live in. To make sure we’ll come home to the America we’ve always known…were we can make our lives what we want them to be…where well be free to live them in peace and kindness and security.
That’s what my brother and I are fighting for.
We’ll come through.
Your heart cracks and the weight on your back seems to push you under and you think you’ll drown but you don’t.
You carry on not for yourself but for the rest of the folks…for the family… the kids…for guys like these swimming around, circling around with night coming on and no ship to come home to and around and below only the empty sea.
For every drop of blood they spill…for every heart they break… for every tear that’s shed… for every ship that’s sunk… for every plane it costs…for every man of ours who’s lost…they’ll pay with ten of their own!
So the freedom we want…
So the future we want…
Will be there when we get back!
I’ll come through again
I know I’ll come through because I’ve got to.
Because in the Marines a man is trained to stand alone…trained to work, to dare, to take a chance, to go ahead on his own..not just for himself but his buddy, his platoon his regiment …his wife…his kids…the country he’s willing to fight and die for.
That’s the spirit that made America strong
That’s the spirit that’s going to win this war.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.